Friday, February 16, 2024

"Honey, I'm Home" at Open Eye Theatre

If walls could talk... they might sound like Madeleine Rowe in their solo show Honey, I'm Home, now playing at Open Eye Theatre as part of their Guest Artist Series. Because when Madeleine says "Honey, I'm home," they literally mean "I am a home." Over about 70 minutes, they personify a house that's been on the market for way too long, and just wants to be bought and lived in and loved, like anyone (or anything). It's a very funny, silly, odd little show that's playful and fun and participatory (in a not too scary way).

I went into the show not knowing much about it, other than it's written and performed by Madeleine Rowe, 2023 TCTB Award nominee for Favorite Comedic Performance by an Individual - they were the standout in a hilarious Every Christmas Story Ever Told at Yellow Tree Theatre. So everything that happened was a delightful (and at times disturbing) surprise. Open Eye's charming little stage is bedecked in bright green turf, with a darling little brick house on a hill against a backdrop of blue sky with fluffy white clouds. When Madeleine comes out (dressed as a house), they become that house. The house tells us stories about the neighborhood, and about the upcoming open house in which they hope someone buys them, because they've been empty for so long. They fantasize about meeting that perfect owner. At the advice of their real estate agent, they decide to undergo renovations. When it turns out the house is haunted with a French ghost, they make the most of the situation.

photo by Nicole Neri
Madeleine is a clown, meaning they've studied the art of clowning. They're a gifted physical comedian, from gracefully awkward dancing, to full body heaves when the house sobs over a rejection. They sometimes speak like they're in a movie from the '40s, and it's very endearing. But perhaps their greatest skill is bringing the audience into the story and playing off of them. There is quite a bit of audience participation in this show, and with the small audience at Open Eye, you're really not safe no matter where you sit (although if you don't want to go up on stage, maybe don't sit in the front row). Audience members are enlisted for sound effects and occasionally to play characters. But Madeleine is very good at guiding them to say the expected thing, and rolling with it when they don't.

Michael Torsh (with whom Madeleine has collaborated at Sheep Theater, who sadly haven't done a show in several years) co-directs the show and co-designed the set. There's definitely that feeling of the "deranged sincerity" that is Sheep's tagline in this show. It's silly and fun and unexpected, and definitely unlike anything else playing around town right now! See it at Open Eye Theatre in South Minneapolis through February 24 only.